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Biden’s DOJ increases power and rewards political allies


By Zack Smith and Paul J. Larkin
[i]Tuesday, July 19, 2022[/i]

Bad news doesn’t get better with age, and neither does a bad legal argument.

Unfortunately, the Biden Justice Department recently proposed resurrecting a bad — and illegal — Obama-era practice that let left-wing operatives control a slush fund to reward their political allies with the public’s money. And they want to do it without even making any effort to persuade Congress to authorize the giveaway.

If a politician handed out $100 bills, it would be seen as vote buying. If Congress passes a law giving out $100 billion in the hope of getting votes … well, that’s Building Back Better, but at least it would have the fig leaf of statutory authority. What the Justice Department is proposing has no statutory shield. It’s simply taking money that, by law, should be paid into the federal treasury and giving it to their friends instead. There’s a word for that: theft.

Here’s how it would work. The Justice Department sues a company, seeking billions of dollars in damages. The company realizes that defending the suit will be expensive, time-consuming and burdensome. Plus, there’s no guarantee of success.

That’s when the Justice Department makes the company an offer they can’t refuse. If the company agrees to pay money to one or more third-party advocacy groups on an approved list, DOJ will settle the case, often for a fraction of the original amount demanded, and often with two-for-one credit for each dollar donated to the favored group.

From the perspective of the company’s executives, it’s a no-brainer. They can settle the case at a massive discount. But why would the Biden administration want to settle for pennies on the dollar?

If you’re looking for a legal justification, you’re looking in the wrong place. This is all about politics: a way to increase its political power, reward its political allies and, in some instances, circumvent the express will of Congress.

Think we’re exaggerating?

In the Housing Settlement Cases stemming from the 2008 financial crises, the Obama Justice Department handed out money to fund “housing counseling” programs at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Congress had stripped money from those programs because HUD had “spread around money to groups like La Raza,” a radical left-wing organization.

Then there’s the Volkswagen emissions settlement. As one commentator noted, “In 2016, DOJ required Volkswagen to pay $2 billion to fund an electric car initiative that Congress had specifically rejected.”

These slush fund settlements are illegal and unconstitutional. The Trump administration prohibited the practice. These diversions of funds are precisely what the framers sought to bar when they denied executive officials the independent authority to decide how to disburse federal money.

Only Congress has the constitutional authority to appropriate money. And it has enacted a variety of federal statues to make sure that the executive branch does not encroach upon that authority.

Sadly, Attorney General Merrick Garland seeks to do just that — in contravention of those statutes and the Constitution. His recently issued memo and proposed rule change would allow the Justice Department to once again engage in these deplorable practices.

Thirty-five members of Congress, led by Sen. Tommy Tuberville and Rep. Lance Gooden sent Mr. Garland a letter earlier this month, urging him not to make these changes.

They expressed their adamant opposition to the “administration’s decision to reinstate the unethical and controversial practice of forcing defendants to pay settlement monies directly to unrelated third parties, circumventing the Treasury and Congress.”

The letter went on to note: “Serious conflicts of interest arise and public trust is eroded when the DOJ requires defendants to donate to activist groups selected by the DOJ.”

The letter is a good start. But lawmakers should, at the very least, conduct oversight hearings to find out how extensive this practice is and who is getting money that should have been deposited in the federal treasury. Congress should also make clear that, given the practice’s illegality and unconstitutionality, anyone who authorizes such a settlement or participates in its execution could be subjected to impeachment and removal from office.

As a practical matter, though, lawmakers may wish to reserve this remedy for high-ranking officials like the attorney general, the deputy attorney general, the associate general or the relevant assistant attorneys general — all appointed officials — who approve these settlements.

Is this really a time when the Justice Department can afford to erode public trust? Hardly.

But that’s what the Biden administration has chosen to do.

• [i]Zack Smith is a legal fellow in The Heritage Foundation’s Meese Center for Legal and Judicial Studies. Paul J. Larkin is the Center’s Rumpel senior legal research fellow.[/i]
Ontheroad · 61-69, M
The Heritage Foundation is a conservative think tank and as such, their opinions aren't anything that should be taken at face value. In other words, like any politically biased organization, question every word that comes out of it.
Bryan12 · 36-40, M
I am going to write her a few of my experiences nd what iv come to realise since my awakenin hopefully you may get something from it
Since my awakening I am super aware of what is going on with me but not only me with other ppl also nd onto society then humanity as a species nd finally the earth everthing seems to make sense my life is not a random sequence of events it seems it was all written before me but not just before me before as in front of me but wouldnt that mean it was also written after me ??lol as i said in my last post i thought i was the ego so i served that ego nd got myself in so much trouble because of it but its not to blame for the fact i didnt know how 2 use ot properly.honestly people nd uay think im goin crazy here but i feel i have the knowledge that gets humity well md when we start to get well how our societies should be set up (nd i know this thru experience) aww iv come to realise all sorts summit made me wise nd when i try 2 speak 2 ppl on the level they say im crazy yet i wasnt b4 wen i was killing my self slowly with drugs running around committing crime left right nd centre i was sane then but now i speak nd know truth im crazy yet i feel the sanest iv ever felt nd without ego i think im saner than them.look ppl this is the 1st time iv put anything outthere nd 4 the past 25 i was told i was a monser tat i was unwanted nd it wud of been better if i was never born so im lackin in the confidence dept.if ud like to hear more pls make this known❤️
Tastyfrzz · 61-69, M
More drivel from the Republicans.
So vote Trump if you don't like it. You can't be a socialist, because Dems. Whatever! You got this.
Graylight · 46-50, F
An opinion piece by a Heritage Foundation member? Um, no thanks.
Chelsiegirl · 41-45, T
You must be a Trumpy... lol

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